New Tools to Make Shopping Easier

Earlier in June we announced the debut of our new website.   We decided, in part,  to revamp the old site because we wanted to make it easier for our customers to shop with EnMart.   One way to do that,  we thought,  was to add some tools that would help streamline the shopping process for certain products.   I’d like to introduce a few of those tools to you today.

The first tool is our Patch Designer. One of the main issues for people who buy patches has always been figuring out border and fabric color.   Our new Patch Designer tool allows you to do that in real time,  since it adds the colors you pick to a graphic of the patch you want to buy.   That way you can see if purple really does work with aqua,  or exactly what shade of gray you need.  Obviously monitors may skew colors a bit,  but the Patch Designer offers as true a color representation as we could provide.

The Patch Designer tool also walks you through every step in the purchase process,  ensuring you don’t forget to select a backing or don’t leave off a border or fabric color.   Once you’ve added all the necessary information,  this tool for designing blank patches gives you the option to add everything to your cart.   No fuss,  no muss and you can add all your patch details in one place.

Another useful new tool we’ve added is the Thread Color Selector.   This tool offers a color grid on which you can select your desired shade.   Once the shade is selected,  the tool will show you the Iris Thread color numbers that most exactly match your selection.  If you have an RGB number for the color you need,  you can select anywhere with that color area and then use the slider bar to reach the RGB color number needed.    The Color Selector will always show the closest matches available.

The next tool is an update of our Thread Cross Reference Converter.  This is the tool you can use to convert from another brand of thread to Iris.   Currently you can convert from Madeira, Robison Anton,  Isacord and Gunold,  as well as search for a thread color based on a Pantone color.  The goal of this tool is to make thread conversion easy and painless.

All the new tools can be found under the Resources tab in the top menu on the website.

Welcome to the New EnMart Website

Have you ever had that experience where you redecorate your house and for the first few days you bump into the coffee table because it isn’t where it used to be?  Things are familiar, yet different.   That’s a bit what creating our new website has been like. All the things you love about EnMart are still here, some of them just may be in different places.     And we’ve added some new features that are designed to make shopping with us easier and more fun.

One new thing is the Patch Designer, a tool that allows you to see your color choices in real time before you make your purchase.   Wondering if aqua and pink works better than navy and red?   This tool will tell you.    Another tool we’re excited about is the Thread Color Selector.   You pick a hue from the color chart and the selector shows you the Iris threads that are the closest match.   If you want to purchase, you simply click the color chip for the color you want and it adds to your cart.   Add in our redesigned Thread Conversion Engine and you’ve got a great system for finding or converting thread colors, all created to make your shopping experience more stress free and streamlined.

You may notice that the website navigation is different too.   Our menus have been redesigned to assist our customers in quickly finding what they need.  Also, did we mention we’ve added vinyl to our product offerings?  We know a lot of our customers are multi-hyphenates, embroiderers-sublimators-quilters or sublimators – crafters or some other combination.   Adding vinyl to the products we offer means we’re that much more of a one stop shop for our customers who work in more than one decoration discipline.

Finally,  there’s the new logo.   A more modern take on the EnMart name,  while still keeping a bit of the flavor of the old logo.   We think it’s a great fit with the new look of the website and for the way EnMart has evolved.

Welcome to the new EnMart.   Thank you for shopping with us.

Stabilizer Secrets: Weight and Why it Matters

One of the more mysterious things about stabilizer,  for some people anyway,  is weight and what that means when it comes to selecting and using stabilizer for a particular job.   On the surface,  backing weight seems pretty simple,  ounces are a familiar weight measurement,  so saying a type of backing is 2.5 ounces seems fairly easy to understand.  What complicates things is when you start factoring backing weight into the success or failure of an embroidered project.   Will using a 2.0 oz. backing rather than a 2.5 oz. backing mean the doom of your design?  Does the weight you choose to use really have that much impact on the success or failure of your project?  Manufacturers go through the bother of weighing stabilizer so the weight much have some impact on the function.

The first thing to understand about stabilizer weight is how manufacturers determine what that weight should be.  The weight of a piece of backing is measured by the square yard.  This means that,  should you have 1.5 oz. backing of the same type but from different manufacturers,  each square yard you weigh should weigh 1.5 oz.   Heavier weight backings,  a 3.0 cutaway for instance,  will be thicker and less flexible.   A lighter weight backing,  say a 1.8 oz. tearaway,  will be thinner and have more flexibility.

Obviously,  the weight of the backing will impact the functionality of the backing as well.  If,  for instance,  you’re sewing a sweatshirt, and the design is dense,  a heavier weight backing will pair with the fabric better and be more suited to holding a dense design.   Suppose,  however,  that you’re sewing on a lightweight polo shirt,  with a bit of a drape.  Then you’ll want a lighter weight stabilizer that is able to move with the drape of the fabric and not interfere with the lines of the garment.  Weight impacts drape and flexibility and the ability to hold a certain number of stitches or a dense design.   All these elements can impact the success or failure of your finished design.

The construction of the backing also has a little bit to do with the weight of the backing,  and a lot to do with the quality.  Machine embroidery stabilizer is typically made up of polyester fibers which are held together with viscose or wood pulp.  High quality backing will have more poly fibers and less viscose,  in lower quality backing the ratios will be the reverse.  What determines the quality of the stabilizer is the length of the poly fibers and the amount of polyester versus filler that is in the material.

A quick and easy test to determine quality is the light test.  Take the piece of stabilizer you want to examine and hold it up to a strong light source.   If the piece you’re examining is high quality,  the stabilizer will have even density and feel smooth when you run your hand over it. A lower quality backing will have thin spots and dense spots making for a more uneven sheet.   This uneven density can impact the quality of your sew-out significantly.

Keep in mind that the sheerness and weight of a backing does not always determine the number of stitches that can be stabilized. Take,  for instance,  the poly mesh backing that EnMart sells.  This backing is embossed,  which means if you hold it to a light source,  you’ll see a textured pattern in the material.   The texture allows the poly mesh to hold substantially more stitches than an unembossed piece of the same weight would be able to hold.

In the end,  weight is just one factor that impacts how a stabilizer will perform for a particular job.   The make-up of the fibers and the construction of the backing can also be critical.   And whether or not the stabilizer has any added features like embossing or texture can also make a difference in the density of the designs that can be used.  When deciding what stabilizer to use for your job,  make sure you take all these factors into account.

The Why of Trade Shows

Every once in a while,  someone will tell me that they don’t go to trade shows,  either as an attendee or an exhibitor,  because they simply don’t have the time.  My response to that is that time spent at a trade show is always worth it,  both as an attendee and as a vendor.   I admit,  I’ve spent more time as one than I have the other,  but I feel like I also have some insight into what attendees get from a show because I’ve met and talked with so many of them over the years. So,  if you haven’t been to a trade show yet,  or haven’t been to one recently,  here is my short pitch for why you should be attending trade shows,  either as an attendee or as a vendor.

If you’re an attendee,  a trade show is a great place to make connections,  both with fellow decorators and with employees of the suppliers with whom you want to work.  A trade show will almost always have a robust slate of seminars,  so it’s also a place where you can learn more about disciplines you already do,  or get a start on trying something new.   It’s also a place to brush up on your business skills,  be it sales and marketing,  using social media,  or figuring out how to communicate your pricing.

If you’re a vendor,  there’s no better place than a trade show to connect with new and current customers.   Depending on the show,  you may be able to sell on the show floor,  which has the potential for the dispersal of a large amount of inventory in a short amount of time.  A trade show can also be a terrific way to establish a presence in a part of the country where you may not have a facility.  It’s also a place to meet industry media and establish connections with industry stars.

Attending a trade show is definitely worth the time and money, whether you’re an attendee or a vendor.  Shows like DAX Chicago and NNEP EmbroideryMart look for venues that offer affordable accommodations for attendees.   Some shows will also offer load in methods for vendors that minimize the cost of bringing a booth and product to sell to the show.  The first thing to do is to take a look at the shows you might want to attend or vend at,  and then compare pricing with what’s being offered.   Your aim should be to find a show that will allow you to accomplish your goals without breaking your budget.

If you’re wondering where EnMart will be in the next few months,  we will be at DAX Chicago May 3-4 and highly encourage everyone to join us in booth 701.   We will also be at the NBM Meadowlands Show in New Jersey in July.

Stabilizer Secrets: Types of Stabilizer

Once upon a time,  some years ago and on another blog, we offered a series of posts about stabilizer.   The goal was to enumerate the types of stabilizer,  discuss why specialty stabilizer existed and why it was used,  and generally explain stabilizer to help our customers who purchased it use what they purchased more effectively.

Fast forward to 2019,  and we’ve added some new stabilizers to the mix, and definitely a number of new customers,  so it seemed worthwhile to revisit this series with updates as required.  As Mary Poppins (the original,  not the Emily Blunt version) advised, the best place to start is the very beginning,  so we’ll start with a brief overview of broad categories of stabilizer.  Subsequent posts will deal with specialty stabilizers,  why stabilizer weight matters,  how the materials used to create your stabilizer make a difference in the finished product and how stabilizer and fabric work together for successful embroidery.  The goal,  by the end of the series,  is to leave you with an understanding of the importance of stabilizer, and the ability to choose which stabilizer you need for which project.

At the most basic, stabilizers can be separated into two categories,  cutaway and tearaway.  As the names imply,  one type (tearaway) can be torn,  while the other type (cutaway) requires cutting with scissors to be removed. Every type of stabilizer falls into one of these two categories,  with the exception of water soluble,  which requires water to be removed.  Water solubles also tend to be toppings,  used to keep stitches from sinking into pile fabrics,  or used for standalone projects like freestanding lace.

A lot of embroiderers like tearaway backing because removal can happen fairly quickly,  since the excess stabilizer can simply be torn away.  A lot of the efficiency and quality of a tearaway can be shown by how quickly and cleanly it tears. A tearaway stabilizer that doesn’t tear cleanly will leave fuzzy edges that can fray or just make the embroidery look messy.   You also want a tearaway that stabilizes and holds stitches but which requires only a minimum amount of force to tear.  If you have to yank hard to tear away the excess,  you risk pulling out stitches or distorting the finished product.

Tearaway stabilizers are generally offered in light-weight,  medium-weight and heavy-weight options.  The medium and heavy weight options may also often be called “hat” or “cap” backing.  These are the weights that will most often be used when adding embroidery to a hat.   The cap backings are generally heavier, stiffer and more paper-like,  so they tear cleanly and easily.

Unlike tearaway stabilizers cutaway stabilizers require a little more work to remove. Cutting away the excess stabilizer is the most common method of removal,  and cuts can be as close to the stitches or as far away as desired.  Some embroiderers will cut their stabilizer to slightly larger than their design before they embroider,  which lessens the need for cutting after the stitch-out is finished.

Cutaway stabilizer is often used with lighter or stretchy fabrics as it is sturdy and provides the fabric with increased stability.   This type of stabilizer is also a popular choice for heavy weight fabrics like sweatshirts.   A 2.5 oz. weight is considered to be a universal or multipurpose cutaway and,  for some embroiderers,  is the only stabilizer they use.

While it is tempting to continue this discussion with an in depth look at the types of specialty stabilizers available,  each of which fall into one of these two main categories,  I think we’ll leave that for another post.  Stay tuned for the next entry in this series,  which will discuss specialty backings,  why they’re used, and how they help you create better embroidery.

For Gifts or Souvenirs Remember the Remembears

What’s cuddly and cute,  easily personalized and a great gift or souvenir?   If you answered a Remembear,  you’ve obviously already seen the adorable new embroiderable stuffed animals that EnMart now carries.

Like the popular Cubbies line,  which has been a staple at EnMart for the past several years,  Remembears have a zipper in their bottom and a stuffing pod which can easily be removed for decoration.  The material of the animals is suitable for embroidery,  as well as sublimation and vinyl.  The tags on Remembears say they are hand wash only,  but we tested one in washing machine on the delicate cycle and it came through without an issue,  so the Remembears can be washed,  albeit gently.

One characteristic of the Remembears worth noting is their large size.   These animals are 16 inches tall and offer a larger sewing field.   As the picture with this post shows,  the size difference can be quite striking.   Remembears are definitely a good option for any sort of display or memento,  as the size of the animals makes them stand out noticeably.  Theyre also a good option for larger size fonts or more wordy quotes,  as there is more space on which to work.

You should also keep in mind that Remembears offer some specialty items like the angel bears, which are bears with wings and gold or silver noses.   The angel bears are an ideal option for a memorial,   as they contain a small pocket which could be used to hold a portion of a loved one’s ashes,  or a small memento of that person.   An angel bear could be a lasting memorial to someone who’s gone,  that not only can be displayed,  but also hugged.

The variety of Remembears available means there are a lot of options for sales to different groups and organizations.   The cow could work for a dairy or ice cream shop. The moose or the wolf could work as school mascots or to commemorate a graduation.  The giraffe and the zebra would be great offerings for a zoo.  A natural history museum would love the green triceratops.   The possibilities for these animals are limited only by your imagination.

Since Remembears can also be decorated via methods other than embroidery,  they offer a flexible personalization option.   Buy some sublimation supplies and sublimate a photo or complicated design.  Get a heat press and try some rhinestones.   And,  for those that work with embroidery,  Remembears are a great blank canvas just waiting to be decorated with your favorite thread.  The possibilities are endless,  and the Remembears are here,  at EnMart,  waiting for their furever homes.

Using Photos to Make the Sale

One of the basic tenants of sales is that people have to know what you have to sell if they’re going to want to buy.   It’s so basic that people often forget that knowledge is part of the equation.  Particularly when selling something like a decorated garment,  a picture can often be worth a thousand words.  The question is where do you put those pictures so your customers see them,  and how do you use those pictures to impart a sense of your expertise and what you can do for those who choose to work with you?

One way to get the message out about what you can do is Pinterest.   As I’ve said before,  Pinterest is about aspiration and getting ideas for items that you want to make or buy.   Having Pinterest boards for your company (these are EnMart’s boards) allows you to showcase different aspects of what you can do.  You can create boards around a certain event or theme,  or make boards that feature a particular product decorated in different ways. If you have Pinterest boards,  make sure they’re featured on your website and social media feeds,  and refer your customers to them in your printed literature.

Another way to help spread the word about what you can do is to share pictures of what you make with your suppliers.  Or you can use a supplier hashtag (#IrisThread, for instance) to alert your suppliers to a picture that might interest them. I know,  here at EnMart,  we love getting pictures of products that were made with supplies purchased from us.  We also share those pictures on our Facebook feed (22,000+ fans) and our Twitter feed.  Granted not all the people who like any of your suppliers are going to be in your potential market spheres,  but some of them might.  Plus,  having your work shared by your suppliers gives you a bit of decorator credibility.   Your work is good enough that it’s being presented as an example of what can be done.

As a writer for industry magazines,  I know I’m always looking for photos to illustrate the pieces I write,  so this can be another fertile ground for pictures of the items you create.  Most of the time,  when an article writer needs pics for a piece,  they will put out a call on social media,  asking for pictures of work that centers on a particular discipline, type of garment or theme.  If you are planning to submit a photo for publication,  remember it needs to be at least 1 MB, and 300 DPI.  Magazines can work with less,  but the odds of your picture getting used are better if you stick to those guidelines.

One last bit of advice,  which goes for any photo you use anywhere.  Make sure your photos are the best quality they can be.   Yes,  you can take a good photo with the cameras on most phones these days,  but it still might be worth investing in a camera,  especially if you’re offering your products for sale online.   Pictures are often the first impression a customer forms of your products, so make sure you are, visually,  putting your best foot forward.  Taking quality pictures may be more time consuming and perhaps more costly,  but the benefits will far outweigh the drawbacks.

Happy New Year

EnMart will be closed on Monday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 1,  in honor of the New Year.   We wish all our friends and customers a happy,  prosperous and productive 2019.

We will re-open on Wednesday, January 2, 2019

EnMart’s Tips and Tricks for Success

Every company is different,  and each has its own way of doing things,  and its own little insider secrets.  Since the end of 2018 is close at hand,  I figured it might be a good time to share a few tips for getting the most from your relationship with EnMart,  so you can start 2019 off on the right note.

Tip #1:  Look for the discounts and the specials –  Iris UltraBrite Polyester Thread,  the king cones anyway,  definitely falls in this category.  Did you know if you purchase 12 or more in any combination of colors you will receive a dollar off per cone?  That takes the wholesale price of a dozen cones from $76.20 to $64.20.  There are also quantity discounts on certain items as well.   Make sure to check the “Qty Breaks” tab on the sublimation products and on blank patches.  Purchasing a few more items than planned could be very helpful to your budget.

Tip #2: Sell what others don’t sell – EnMart offers a few products that other suppliers don’t offer.   One such product is the Iris Thread mentioned previously.  Another product that is available only from EnMart is the Remembears.  Offering a product your competitors don’t offer gives you an advantage in your particular marketplace.  If you seize the opportunity early,  you can lock in and dominate the customer base for those products.

Tip #3: Order early –  We at EnMart pride ourselves on our speedy shipping and strive to get orders for goods that don’t need to be manufactured out the same day. If you want prompt shipping of your orders,  it’s best to place them as early in the day as you can.   Our official cut off time for same day orders is 2 p.m.  In practice we may stretch that a little,  but it’s still always best to order sooner rather than later.

Tip #4: Time Issue – Talk To Us – We know that sometimes orders get placed at the last minute, or a customer brings you a rush order and you need supplies now.  We’re familiar with the panic that can cause,  and we’re willing to help,  if you let us know.   If you have a time sensitive issue with an order,  put a note on the order when you place it,  or contact us to let us know about your needs.  We can’t promise to be able to meet every request,  but we certainly can’t meet any of the ones we don’t know anything about.

Tip #5 – Follow us on Social Media – Want to be the first to know about specials or sales?  Eager to hear about new products before your competitors?  EnMart generally spreads any news we have to share through our social media feeds or by e-mail.   Follow EnMart on Facebook or Twitter,  or visit our boards on Pinterest to stay up on what’s happening at EnMart.  You can also join our mailing list to be sure you receive our e-mails.